Book Review: Åsa Larsson’s Until Thy Wrath Be Past

Posted November 5, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Åsa Larsson’s Until Thy Wrath Be PastUntil Thy Wrath be Past by Åsa Larsson
This amateur sleuth, mystery is a hardcover edition on August 4, 2011 and has 320 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

five-stars

Fourth in the Rebecka Martinsson mystery series set in Sweden and revolving around a prosecutor in a small village.

I have read this series out of order, and I don’t recommend it. I find myself questioning why this relationship or that one is so different from what I remember. Then I remember my out-of-whack start…

I couldn’t find The Black Path, 3, anywhere, and I finally gave up and moved on to this one. Mistake. Something terrible happened in The Black Path, and I must go hunt it down.

My Take

This is a book about guilt, gossip, and game-playing, of change in how the police operate with each other and with Rebecka. It seems Kiruna too is under threat of change.

The start is a change-up as well. Creepy …*shudder*, and Larsson drifts in and out with Wilma’s perspective. What a way to grab your attention and make you want to read on and learn more. And, yep, it made me cry right from the start. It does provide a lesson, if you will, of why you want to tell people where you’re going. It would have helped. Some.

Wilma isn’t the only one to drift in and out. I do enjoy how Larsson takes us back into history in her stories. We go back to Kerkula’s start as a truck hauler. Kerttu’s true nature. It’s a tale of sympathy toward Germany before it turns to hatred. It was odd to find Wilma’s ghost going back in time as well. That’s an angle I did not expect and am still not sure about. I know, I know, the whole ghost idea is…quirky?, but I’ve never encountered a ghost character (outside of Cassandra Palmer) who could time travel. And it’s Anni’s memories of her time with Wilma that spur Rebecka’s own memories of her grandmother and provides us with a look at her own past.

It’s scary, how cocky these two are. The only positive is that what happened when their killers showed up was inevitable. It doesn’t matter how much I cry why didn’t you? None of the choices they made or didn’t make would have made any difference. And so the tension begins for us, even as the tension they needed disappeared.

It is balanced by the joyful memories Anni has of the times she spent with Wilma and Simon. A balance that only makes the loss worse.

It’s also a look at the worries of old people. Of no longer being capable of living on their own, caring for themselves. Of being stored away in a nursing home. It’s how the disappearances of loved ones affect the families. Again, with the tears. It doesn’t matter that I know this is just a story. It’s the sort of thing that does happen to people, and I can’t help but cry for them.

The horrors that have happened to Rebecka. Jesus. Those murdering bastards in Sun Storm, 1, followed by Lars-Gunnar in The Blood Spilt, 2. I’m not surprised Rebecka cracked. Yet, these horrors create a bridge between her and the guilty.

So many people are unhappy in this one nor is anyone communicating, except for the gossip that will doom too many. The victim. Her great-grandmother. Anna-Maria. Simon’s parents. Sven-Erik in his anger and making stupid mistakes. Anna-Maria so miserable after Regla and with her husband. Even Lars is miserable. Rebecka and Måns each poking away at each other, the petty games.

There is such raging conflict in the Kerkula family — and I’ll say it again, some people shouldn’t be allowed to breed. I don’t know the father’s story, but the rest are driven by guilt and glee. It’s frustrating that Hjalmar allows all this. If he’d taken that stand at school, I have to wonder how different this would be. How much happier he’d have been. How can a parent not want their child to follow their dreams? Their dreams, not their parents’. It’s Krister who sums it up: love is about giving, and the Kerkulas never learned that one.

There’s also a peaceful quality. Rebecka is so happy being here, even if the other cops and lawyers aren’t, lol. There’s a small town quality in how people keep an eye out for each other, as long as you leave the Kerkulas out of it! And Krister is always pleased to be with his dogs.

Ooh, yeah…the cops get sneaky. Those “poor” murderers worked so hard to obscure their crime, and yet the body has so much to tell us as do mannerisms, habits, and reputation. I know Anna-Maria wants the Kerkulas to be guilty, and I can’t blame her, but there is nothing, no clues, no sightings, other than their nasty behavior that warrants this thought.

I had a few odd niggles. One is a mechanical issue in that a few passages read stiffly. What I think of as a loose thread with Simon getting left in the lurch, especially after Wilma’s initial protestations that she wanted someone to find him. Lastly, Rebecka ticked me off. She’s been ignoring Mån’s text messages and voicemails for days, then when she sends him a few and he doesn’t respond, she gets angry. Hah. Wait till she’s waited longer than Mån’s had to wait, then complain.

It’s funny how an an in-your-face reality check can change your attitude.

The Story

Wilma and Simon are eager for their adventure, the one for which they’ve prepared all summer. It’s Östen Marjavaara who finds them, and he swears off river water for the rest of his life.

The Characters
Rebecka Martinsson is content in her new life as a prosecutor in Kiruna and living in her grandmother’s house in Kurravaara. Måns Wenngren was her boss at Meijer & Ditzinger in Stockholm. Now he’s her lover. Maria Taube is a friend and former colleague from the firm.

Bella is a German pointer who belongs to Sivving Fjällborg, her neighbor. A practical man who lives small in his basement.

The police
Inspector Krister Eriksson is the horribly disfigured dog handler in love with Rebecka. He’s a sweet man, and I keep hopin’. Tintin is his pregnant black German Shepherd; Roy, the new dog, is a chocolate-brown. Inspector Anna-Maria Mella is his boss and heads up this crime team, which includes the very angry Sven-Erik Stålnacke, Fred Olsson, and Tommy Rantakyrö.

Lars Pohjanen is the pathologist who resents interference. Anna Granlund is a technician who carefully looks out for her boss, Lars. Alf Björnfoot is Rebecka’s boss and the chief prosecutor.

Robert is Anna-Maria’s clueless husband; Marcus is the oldest, a teen with a typical teen frustration for adults; Jenny is their daughter; Petter is another son; and, Gustav is the youngest. Ebba is one of Jenny’s friends at the stables. Airi Bylund is Sven-Erik’s girlfriend; Mattias was her brother. Boxar is their cat.

Wilma Persson was seventeen when she died. Before that, she was a gift to Anni Autio, her great-grandmother, who was so grateful for her great-granddaughter’s lively presence and joyous outlook. She saw Wilma as her best friend. Simon Kyrö is her boyfriend and such a sweetheart. All the old folks in the neighborhood enjoyed their spirited play.

Göran Sillfors is a talkative bugger, but with useful information that his wife, Berit, corroborates. Hjörleifur Arnarson is a character and the Sillforses’ neighbor. He lives off the land and prefers to be au naturel, even for court cases! Vera is the name of his dog. Jan Viinikainen is charge of the town hall’s archives.

The Krekulas
Kerttu is Anni’s sister who married up. Isak Krekula made his fortune with his hauling firm, Krekula Haulers, during the wars. Hjalmar Krekula is the older brother, a math whiz who has no hope, an unfeeling vicious bully under his mother, brother, and father’s thumb. Tore is a psychopath, considering his actions as a young child. Combine it with those parents, well, the whole family is vicious, brutal to everyone including themselves. They’ll hurt you for the fun of it. Reijo is their miserable dog. Laura is Tore’s abused wife. Interesting what guilt can do to a man.

Johannes Svarvare and Hugo Fors are employed by the Krekulas. Elmina Salmi is the one who takes Hjalmar in after the forest episode. Stig Rautio owes rent to the Krekulas. Mr. Fenström was Hjalmar’s schoolteacher; Mr. Bergvall was the headmaster. It really is best to have no interaction with the Krekulas.

The Characters in World War II
Oberleutnant Walther Zindel was in charge of the storage depots in Luleå. Martin Waldenstöm is the managing director of the mining company, LKAB. Sicherheitschef William Schörner is the SS man in charge of security.

The Fox was the nom de guerre for a spy lurking amongst them.

Karl-Åke Pantzare is in a retirement home now, but back in the day, he was a member of a resistance group, XU, working to keep an intelligence base, Kari, supplied. Axel Viebe was also a member of the resistance who helped hide three Danish prisoners-of-war. He shouldn’t have gossiped. Vilhelm Moberg is writing against the Germans, revealing the truth of those trains.

Farmor is Swedish for grandmother, and Rebecka’s grandmother, Theresia, shows up at one point.

The Cover and Title

The cover is almost quilt-like in its textures with the icy lines of white above blending into the deep dark blues below, an arm drifting with the current.

The title is from Job 14:13:-22 in the Bible, and I suspect Until Thy Wrath Be Past particularly applies to Hjalmar.

five-stars

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